The sound of my own voice drowning out the Spirit. The Spirit is exceptional, I am not. Humiliation can be a powerful tool, unless it is embraced in an inordinate fashion. There is probably a secret clinging to pride if one is always declining invitations to do more. One could be secretly hoping for that unrealistic moment when the group clamors for one’s leadership unanimously. Until then, the individual refuses to get involved at all. Humiliation can be a useful thing when applied in appropriate amounts to an ego that has run amuck.
The Spirit is always flowing and moving through us. We generally do not care to listen or tune in. Going rogue feels good when we are young, and then we end up just going through the motions when we get older. You don’t deserve anything at all, really. You don’t deserve any good things, because in your heart of hearts, you have committed so many sins–sins you weren’t even aware of in your state of being utterly disconnected from the Spirit.
You get good things because of mercy and grace. You get the right opportunities, an ordinate measure of them, when you begin to seek to be synced with the will of God. Have you ever seen a rich person really happy, and living a life that is completely free of cares and concerns? Maybe some do exist, but none of the ones in the tabloids seem capable of just being happy they don’t have to work for money. You say that you would travel incessantly, and spend your idle time reading books and writing and painting, but do you ever do such a thing when you have a little money saved and some idle time? Maybe a little bit, but then you get restless and bored–you go out seeking some diversion or distraction, and you eat too much, drink too much? You become, in a micro way, a lot like the wealthy celebrities on reality TV–creating unnecessary drama in your life and eating and drinking. Travel is accomplished in spurts of saving and buckling down and saying you are just going to do it. The same thing with books to read and write. There is a certain amount of work involved in traveling–you have to put up with a lot of waiting and a lot of difficult people and situations just to get where you want to go, and even there, you find yourself never quite able to just lay back and enjoy yourself without someone trying to extract money from you. This is not to say that travel is no good–but, it comes with a certain kind of work involved, just like anything else where profit and reward are to be obtained from the activity.
At your heart of hearts, when you are allowed to indulge yourself without caring the least bit about others, you inevitably end up being a slug–happy to eat, drink, gratify the self, lay around and do a lot of nothing and napping, sometimes with the excuse of meditating.
You have to have a work ethos that says you must always be awake and on top of what you are trying to accomplish, so that idelness doesn’t eat you alive. But, your work ethos must be free of ego–and this is a tough thing, indeed. For, ego has powered your work ethos most of your life. Without any desire to gratify the ego–your impermanent self on this earth–what is the point of working so hard? It is so easy to forget just how rewarding it can be when you seek to serve the Lord and others in need without your ego at hand, expecting a clear and immediate payoff.
The simple paradigm of spirit vs. flesh is often too easily grasped without a deeper understanding of what might constitute the flesh. The self of this world, caught up in trying to leave behind a legacy, is more concerned about the immortality of what it imagines to be its complete self, which includes the flesh. The battle with pure flesh, around lust and gluttony, can sometimes seem to be almost laughable once you get past your reproductive prime. There are the occasional hiccups where lust rears its ugly head or you eat and drink too much, but just when you think you have these two mostly conquered, you see that your ego is still way out of line.
You are attached to the notion of self which urges you to make a name for yourself, to make something that will live on after you die, but when people see it, they will think of you as you walked the earth. This is, upon any examination whatsoever, utterly ridiculous. No future generations care much of anything about the conquerors of old. Their statues and the names and dates associated with them are just boring trivia they are required to memorize by rote at some point in their school years. We don’t hold the real Abraham Lincoln in our hearts today. The memories of loved ones who have passed on are slim pickings of fading snapshots of the real souls we loved. This is why death causes so much pain and anguish. We can do everything we can with memorials and scholarships and biographies to keep the memories alive, but we know they are gone, out of reach from us. Going to a psychic to get a word from the grave might bring some small comfort, but can never be the same as having them here with us, in the flesh.
We have a sense of immortality, and we have forgotten where we came from. We can attach ourselves to any belief or non-belief system we want, but at the end of the day, we know nothing at all about why we insist upon imposing a kind of immortality onto a world that has already moved on and forgotten us. As long as you hold even the tiniest little fraction of a percentage of hope that things will be different for you when you die, your words and deeds will be colored by a fruitless quest toward this false immortality. Think about how different your life could be if you just let go of it. You let go of any desire whatsoever to be remembered when you are gone, to make a name for yourself, to leave a legacy. You know that as it pertains to this earth, you are already as good as dead.
It might seem like a horrible thing indeed, but it can feel very refreshing if you ponder it for a bit. You are no longer constricted or bound to your imaginary audience of future generations learning about who you were–there have been more than enough villains who rewrote their histories and victims who continue to be portrayed as villains in history. If history does bother to keep an encyclopedia entry on your name, it will likely be so inaccurate as to not even be you at all. And, once you are dead, you won’t care anyway. You can now sit here and just ask God, what will you have of me in this moment?
Maybe what you do doesn’t change radically. You continue to sit and write, but the writing now starts to shift away from concern for crafting the perfect sentence to listening to God more closely to get right what He is trying to say. Or, you still go off to the same job you don’t particularly like, but you know that you are living to serve God, and it will color your actions to the degree where being charitable becomes less about which non-profits get your would-be tax dollars at the end of the year, and about having a charitable mindset that seeks to bring out the best in those around you.
You become unconcerned with how much you are getting done or still need to get done before you die. The career you want to look back on is likely one that gratifies your flesh, it makes you feel good knowing that you were a somebody as well on this earth, at least among a select group of other bodies during a select time period. But, your career is not important or special to anyone else. You might do a few great things that help advance the health and well being of humanity, but again, if you are recognized for it, you will have your name next to those things, and nothing more. Your true self is not immortalized, only your temporary name is. Most of the advances in human civilization–like over 99% of them–were made by people we don’t remember today. Just because we now have highly advanced systems of recording and keeping track of everything doesn’t mean anything–generations from now will still forget that you accomplished this or that, and never bother to look up who the discoverer or inventor was.
It doesn’t mean that you do nothing at all, from now on. It is simply a re-arranging of priorities, and a completely different attitude and outlook on life. The desire to have the perfectly sculpted body is certainly gone. The will to become recognized or known as the top this-or-that in your field is destroyed. But, the will to love and serve others comes through stronger than ever.